Our beautiful hedgerows support biodiversity, prevent flooding and counter climate change, but half have been lost in recent decades. A team of Reading researchers are informing the public about their benefits through educational resources, videos, webinars and a National Hedge Week, getting people talking and creating thousands of new hedgerow enthusiasts.

The UK needs bigger, healthier and better-connected hedgerows to help our flagging biodiversity. Humble hedgerows are homes for bats, dormice and pollinating insects as well as crop pest-munching insects like spiders. They can also help prevent flooding, keep soil healthy, cool the air on hot days, mop up pollution and absorb carbon. But over the past 80 years we’ve lost half what we once had.

As part of the Green Recovery Challenge Funded Close the Gap project, Reading ecologists Dr Alice Mauchline, Dr Mike Garratt and the team are educating and enthusing people about hedgerows’ vital importance. They’ve led interactive workshops to understand what different people value about hedgerows and brought together the scientific evidence for hedgerows’ benefits. Education and training materials they’ve created and collated are tailored to different audiences, from town-dwellers to farmers.

This has culminated in Hedge Hub, the go-to online resource for all things hedge, from how to lay them to hedge-related laws. Hedge Hub’s hundreds of resources and papers have had over 20,000 visits from members of the public in its first year.

The Reading team continue to work with key partners including the Tree Council and Hedgelink to reach wider networks. Their free HedgeTalks webinar series has been enjoyed by more than 1,000 people and they helped to launch National Hedgerow Week, now into its third year, which is starting new conversations about hedges everywhere.

“Close the Gap will boost the immense potential of our hedgerows – for biodiversity, carbon-capture, conserving our natural cultural heritage and more. We want everyone to understand and value their local hedgerows.” — Sara Lom, CEO, The Tree Council

Judges' comment

“A very impressive project that has had significant reach and several excellent outcomes that demonstrate a clear interaction with, and benefit to, the public.”

Team: Alice Mauchline and Close the Gap project team


  • The Tree Council
  • Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group
  • People’s Trust for Endangered Species
  • Moor Trees
  • Future Gardeners (Worshipful Company of Gardeners)
  • Hedgelink


  • Green Recovery Challenge Fund